Save that smile for the unmelancholy Danes

In her cheerful July 2 Xpress article, “Welcome to the Happiest Place in America,” Alli Marshall didn’t mention joy expert Eric Weiner’s conclusion that Denmark is the happiest place on Earth. Here are some of the reasons why, according to my research.

The Danish maximum workweek is 37 hours, with a minimum of six paid weeks of vacation as well as nine national paid holidays. Health care is free and timely for all—no questions asked, almost no expense spared—with freedom to choose your dbut a main result is that people choose careers less based on pay or status, and more for what they love to do. In addition, private business still thrives, with the Danes ranking third in global competitiveness while maintaining a healthy growth rate and low jobless level. The government subsidizes the arts, but the money is awarded by a commission of private citizens (with membership rotated often).

Denmark also has one of the lowest poverty rates on Earth. Because few people are desperate, vegetable stands and bicycles are routinely left unattended and unlocked. Bike trails abound and are often separate from roads. Education is free at all levels. If you wish to go back to school, your tuition is paid and you get a $750 a month stipend for housing and food. You can be easily fired from a job, but every person [is allowed] four years of generous unemployment benefits during her/his lifetime. Thus there is also little hesitation in quitting an inhumane or unfulfilling job. The government even subsidizes friendship by financially backing almost any club that anyone can dream up.

Looking at these facts, I conclude that America is in the barbaric backwaters of the pursuit of happiness. Asheville’s high relative happiness occurs despite such a primitive system.

— Bill Branyon
Asheville

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3 thoughts on “Save that smile for the unmelancholy Danes

  1. AshevilleObserver

    Could Mr.Branyon analyze how those free government benefits in Denmark are paid for?

    The Danish Embassy Web site says this about Cost of Living there: “Due to a strong trade union movement, wages in Denmark are generally higher than in the United States. Negotiated minimum wage is approximately $12/hour. Income tax in Denmark, however, is high by international standards, and ranges from 45% to a high 64%. The flat-rate VAT in Denmark is 25%. Major exemptions from VAT are rents, medicine and newspapers. The cost of living in Denmark is considerably higher than in the United States. Copenhagen is among the five most expensive cities in the world.

  2. babalooy

    Yes income tax is 50% to 70%, but one big effect is that the Danes choose work more for what they love, and less for the money. Things are more expensive, but things are not considered that important. Free time and great economic security means the Danes have the energy to develop free time interests that are not just those of consumers.

  3. dave

    Whaoooo, there, buddy. Back up a bit. are you implying that there are other options in life than making lots of money to spend at wal mart and wendy’s?

    That sounds kinda unamerican.

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